Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua tour Diriyah stadium ahead of Saudi clash

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Organizers constructed the Diriyah Arena in less than a month to stage one of the biggest sporting events to take place in the Middle East. (Supplied)
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Organizers constructed the Diriyah Arena in less than a month to stage one of the biggest sporting events to take place in the Middle East. (Supplied)
Updated 01 December 2019

Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua tour Diriyah stadium ahead of Saudi clash

RIYADH: Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua on Sunday toured the 15,000 seat stadium that will be the scene for their world heavyweight title clash in Saudi Arabia.
The “Clash on the Dunes” will take place in the UNESCO heritage site Diriyah on the edge of Riyadh.
Organizers constructed the arena in less than a month to stage one of the biggest sporting events to take place in the Middle East.
The Mexican-American fighter Ruiz, who will be  laying his WBO, IBF, WBA and IBO belts on the line described the venue as “amazing”
“It’s amazing to be fighting over here, it’s going to be really historic and I’m planning to make history over here,” he said as he looked around the arena. “It’s a lot different. When I first got here none of this was here so it’s unbelievable.”
The stadium was built from almost 300 tons of steel to cover an area of 10,000 square meters. It was built to host the thousands of fans flying in from dozens of countries to see the fight.
Britain’s Joshua, who lost the belts to Ruiz at their first match in New York earlier this year, said it was going to be an “incredible night.”
“I’m thrilled so many of my fans are going to be there, particularly from the UK,” he said. “It’ll definitely be a night people will tell their grandchildren they were at, one of those iconic evenings of boxing. Everyone from Saudi has been brilliant to work with.”
Diriyah is the venue for a series of international sports events in the space of a month. Last weekend, it hosted the Formula E, and later this month the Diriyah Tennis Cup and Diriyah Equestrian Festival will take place in the historic setting.


Egypt football club chases record after signing 75-year-old to pro contract

Ezz El-Din Bahader
Updated 27 January 2020

Egypt football club chases record after signing 75-year-old to pro contract

  • Today, the Egyptian Football Association has registered the oldest professional player in the world during the current winter transfer period

CAIRO: A 75-year-old Egyptian footballer has his sights set on becoming the world’s oldest professional player following his signing by a third-division club.
Ezz El-Din Bahader was registered with the Egyptian Football Association by the 6th October Football Club, which now wants him to enter the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest pro player. Bahader is far from unfazed by his newfound fame, even comparing himself to Egypt and Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah.
“He is the top Egyptian professional player and I am the oldest Egyptian player. Age does not matter,” Bahader said.
Under the title “Egyptian Premier League Professional at the age of 75,” the Football Association issued a statement on its official Facebook page.
“Today, the Egyptian Football Association has registered the oldest professional player in the world during the current winter transfer period. He is 75-year-old Ezz El-Din Bahader, who signed for 6th October in the third division,” it said.
Bahader had his first practice with his new club on Friday. Before the warmup, club coach Ahmed Abdel-Ghani had an extended meeting with Bahader, discussing the player’s physical readiness, especially since he hopes to score a goal that would make him the oldest player to score.
“I chose shirt number 23,” Bahader said. “I will play in two games, one against Egy-Telecom which may go up to the second division. That would be the most challenging game for the team, so I will do my best to win.
“The forward position is tough because the player encounters rough play. However, I believe I play well as a forward and I want to make my dream come true, so I have to face the challenges.”
Hossam Bernasos, 6th October vice president, said Bahader was determined to claim the Guinness record.
“We want the honor for Egypt, but he must play in two games according to conditions set by Guinness.”
The current record for the world’s oldest player is held by an Israeli, Isaak Hiyak, who played as a goalkeeper at the age of 73. “Bahader is a top professional with high physical skills. He is a distinguished player,” Bernasos said.

FASTFACT

Ezz El-Din Bahader was registered with the Egyptian Football Association by the 6th October Club, which now wants him to enter the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest pro player.

Ahmed Rabie El-Haddad, a 6th October club board member, told Arab News: “We would do anything that is in the best interests of our country. So we began the process of signing Bahader. We wanted to make his dream come true. Decision-makers should help those who deserve to have their dreams come true.”
El-Haddad said that club officials watched a video of Bahader before signing him.
“We are proud that the player who is close to getting into Guinness carries the name of our club,” El-Haddad said. “This is good promotion for Egypt and for our club.”
El-Haddad believes Bahader can continue to play with the club even after he claims the Guinness record.
“Football is a right for everyone. If he thinks he can continue to play, we welcome him. That will be his decision as well as the decision of the club’s coach.”
Ahmed Hussein, the club’s director of sports activities, said he expected Bahader’s first game with the club to take place next month at home.
If Guinness officially names Bahader as the world’s oldest player, he will be honored by Egypt’s Youth and Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhy.